When school starts back up at the end of August, many Brown Station Elementary families will notice a new leader at the helm of the Gaithersburg school.
The Montgomery County Board of Education recently appointed Mary Jo Powell as the new principal of the elementary school, located at 851 Quince Orchard Blvd., effective July 1.
Powell began her teaching career with Montgomery County Public Schools in 1993 as a special education teacher at Carl Sandburg Learning Center in Rockville. She later worked there as a staff development teacher. Powell went on to work as an assistant principal at Lake Seneca, S. Christa McAuliffe and Waters Landing elementary schools, all in Germantown.
For the past year, the Clarksburg resident has served as the principal intern at Fox Chapel Elementary in Germantown.
“It has been an incredible couple of weeks,” Powell said. “I feel like I’m on this emotional ride of preparing for the first day of teaching again.”
Powell said she became interested in applying to the principal position at Brown Station because of several factors, such as its high rate of diversity and larger special education program.
“These are areas that I feel I can make a difference in,” she said.
Since assuming her position, Powell said she has spent much of her time having individual meetings with staff members to learn more about them and the dynamics of the school.
“I’m trying to understand the culture of the school,” she said.
In her new role, Powell plans to join the school’s effort to bring more culturally responsive instruction into the learning environment, by making sure resources are culturally relevant to the students and by increasing family involvement.
In the coming years, Brown Station is also set to receive a new school building in a $19.5 million modernization project. Under the current plan, a brand new 106,529-square-foot building will fully replace the 58,338-square-foot structure that presently occupies the nine-acre campus.
Additionally, the plan calls for three new playgrounds, basketball courts/blacktop, two youth softball fields and an all-purpose field. Two separate parking lots will also be built; one to accommodate buses and the other for car drop-offs.
Construction on the new school was scheduled to be completed in August 2016, but due to county budget restraints, was pushed back to August 2018.
“I’m excited to be apart of the Gaithersburg community,” Powell said. “I feel that they have warmly embraced me and I look forward to building a partnership.”